The South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) has added its voice to those questioning the constraints imposed on renewable-energy technologies in the updated base case of Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which has been released for public comment.
The council, which is the umbrella body for a number of industry organisations in the sector, also expressed concern at the lack of a “clear explanation” for the absence of concentrated solar power (CSP) in the updated IRP base case.
The Department of Energy (DoE) released the base case for public comment on November 22, describing it as a “starting point” for further consultation and public comment. It also indicated that consultations would take place over the coming few months ahead of the promulgation of a final updated IRP during the first few months of 2017.
The base case allocates 55 000 MW for new renewables to be added between 2020 and 2050, in the form of 37 400 MW of wind and 17 600 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV).
Sarec chairperson Brenda Martin, therefore, expressed “cautious support” for the acknowledgement of a growing role of wind and solar PV in the country’s future electricity mix. However, she also expressed the hope that “a number of concerns that the industry has raised” be addressed in the public participation process.
Chief among these is the fact that the update’s base case sustains the constraints included in the IRP 2010 on the yearly allocation for the addition of renewables to the grid. These constraints were imposed amid uncertainty, at the time, about the country’s ability to procure sufficient quantities of renewables at an acceptable price. In addition there were concerns (which remain) about the possible negative impact on the grid of integrating large quantities of variable generation technologies.
“It isn’t clear as to why the constraint imposed on renewable technologies in the IRP 2010 is continuing to be maintained in the 2016 update, considering that renewable power prices awarded in Rounds 1 to Rounds 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) illustrate a clear decline, even faster than those anticipated back in 2010,” Martin said.
Other issues that Sarec planned to raise during the consultations ranged from whether planning has been made on the basis of ‘least cost’ to why there is a variance in the base case assumption from the real prices achieved in the recent rounds of the REIPPPP.
Separately, the Southern Africa Solar and Thermal Electricity Association, which represents the CSP industry, has indicated that it will be contesting the exclusion of CSP, arguing that it demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the value CSP plays in providing clean and dispatchable baseload, mid-merit and peaking power.
“Finally, the IRP 2016 assumes that all determinations gazetted by the Minister of Energy to date should proceed as planned over the next four years. Sarec would thus like to urgently insist that the DoE ensures due process in the financial close of the Round 4 and small IPP preferred bidder projects and the announcement of Expedited Round preferred bidders.”